Deep in Madripoor, the Power Broker knows every secret. But does the Power Broker also know they might have a direct connection to the arrival of the X-Men in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
In the third episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, “The Power Broker,” Baron Zemo (Daniel Brühl) brings our heroes Sam (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky (Sebastian Stan) to Madripoor, a made-up Singapore-esque country in the archipelago of Indonesia. It’s there they meet one person in Madripoor’s hierarchy of underworld power: Selby, a gangster in a silk suit played by MCU veteran Imelda Cocoran (previously seen in a different role in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
Here’s the thing, though: Selby may be yet another connection to the world of mutants in the MCU, second after Wanda Maximoff and her brother Pietro.
In the Marvel Universe, Madripoor is a country in southeast Asia. Modeled after Singapore (and geographically its neighbor), the history of Madripoor is that it started as a haven for sea pirates. In the 21st century, it is now a trendy place of semi-lawlessness; think the Cantina in Star Wars bumping Diplo. There is a steep class divide, with the wealthy living it up in “Hightown” and the dirt poor slumming it in “Lowtown.” (No one said comic books had to be subtle.)
Madripoor is a place heavily associated with Marvel’s mutant characters. The country made its first appearance in New Mutants #32 and has since been a major location in comics like the solo Wolverine, Uncanny X-Force, and X-Men: Blue. A great number of mutants live in Madripoor, notably the time-displaced original X-Men. (See Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men from 2012.) If you’re in the mood to binge-watch, Madripoor also appears in two of the Marvel Anime shows, Wolverine and Blade, both streaming on Netflix.
Selby herself is a big connection to the X-Men — sort of. “Selby” originates in issue #104 of Excalibur, a Marvel Comics series consisting of mutants (led by the non-mutant Captain Britain) who operate in and out of the U.K. Depicted as a dark-skinned male, Selby’s mutant power was mastery over computer binary code. Selby was a part of the Mutant Liberation Front (MLF), a group of anarchists led by the mutant Stryfe. Their headquarters were not in Madripoor but in Krakoa, a sentient island also heavily associated with the lore of Marvel’s X-Men.
Selby had a very, very minor role, appearing for just one issue. So the MCU has more than enough leeway to reinterpret the character into the Selby seen in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
But between Madripoor and using the name of an obscure character in an off-shoot X-Men comic, the MCU is going harder into the world of mutants than ever before. In the aftermath of WandaVision, a show that practically begged fans to speculate X-Men Easter eggs, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the MCU hiding its X-Men connections in plain sight.
Of course, this isn’t confirmation of mutants (yet) in the MCU. This week’s episode focused on the hunt for the retooled Super Soldier Serum, not a mutant viroid like the Legacy Virus. There was no mention of Professor Xavier and Magneto, or Wolverine, or the Phoenix Force. But if mutants are on their way to the MCU, as Marvel Studios’ own Kevin Feige confirmed back at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, let it be known that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was one of the mutants’ first steps.